LOS ANGELES — R.D. Hubbard, who bred, owned and raced thoroughbred and quarter horses and was an influential executive in the racing industry, has died. He was 84.
Hubbard died Wednesday at home with his wife Joan Dale at his side in Palm Desert, about 115 miles east of Los Angeles, according to Shaun Hubbard. His grandson told The Associated Press he had been in declining health.
“He lived 262 years’ worth in 84,” Shaun Hubbard said Thursday by phone. “I promise you nobody worked harder and played harder than that man.”
Hubbard was chairman of now-defunct Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California, in the early 1990s as well as Turf Paradise in Phoenix. He helped bring Hollywood Park from near-bankruptcy to profit, adding a card club casino in 1994.
“I remember every day he’d walk the whole grandstand and check it, and it kind of helped everyone feel like they were part of it,” said Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, who trained for Hubbard. “He liked to make money, but he liked everyone else to make money, too.”
In 1995, Hubbard was involved in a deal with the Raiders and the NFL to bring a football stadium to Inglewood that would have combined with the racetrack as part of an entertainment complex. The deal fell through when Raiders owner Al Davis refused to add a second team at the stadium. Today, the track’s former site has been turned into SoFi Stadium, where the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams will play when it opens later this year.
Hubbard served as a director on the Breeders’ Cup board and hosted the 1997 world championships at Hollywood Park.
“His business savvy, steady hand on the crucial issues facing the Breeders’ Cup, and wry sense of humor were of great benefit to us all,” the organization said in a statement.
Hubbard also headed a group that was awarded a license to build Zia Park in 2003. The track in Hobbs, New Mexico, races thoroughbreds and quarter horses.
Hubbard began his breeding operation in Kentucky and later moved Crystal Springs Farm to a 155-acre spread near Tularosa, New Mexico. The ranch has been for sale for about a month, according to listing agent Dwain Nunez. Shaun Hubbard said the 100 head of horses would be dispersed in a sale later this year.
“Since I was a young kid, the horses is a passion we equally shared,” said Shaun Hubbard, who was close to his grandfather. “He was always willing to listen and basically change and adapt where he saw necessary.”
Hubbard helped create the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and as a member of NTRA’s board of directors, he co-founded its Racing Integrity and Drug Testing Task Force.
Among the top thoroughbreds he owned were Corwyn Bay, Gentlemen, and Stravinsky.
Born in Smith Center, Kansas, on June 13, 1935, Randall Dee Hubbard was the youngest of eight children. He worked in his family’s icehouse and attended Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. After graduating, he became a teacher.
Hubbard left teaching to become a glass salesman in 1959. Nine years later, he became president of Safelite Auto Glass. In 1978, he formed his own company, AFG Industries, which he helped grow into the second-largest glass manufacturer in North America.
During his early years in the glass business, Hubbard became interested in quarter horses and it inspired a passion for racing.
He bought New Mexico's Ruidoso Downs in 1988 with partner Ed Allred, and became sole owner until he sold it in 2017. Mandella said it always Hubbard's dream to win the All American Futurity, the world's richest quarter horse race. He finished second last year with Mister Riptide.
“He fully understood the ups and downs of racing and took each one in great stride,” Mandella said. “He always made it fun.”
Hubbard and his wife founded the Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso.
The couple started their own foundation in 1986 which supports several charitable causes, including the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America and the American Quarter Horse Foundation. The foundation has donated over $25 million in scholarships to Hubbard's junior college alma mater in Kansas.
“He had an insatiable appetite to get the most out of people and for people to better themselves,” Shaun Hubbard said. “So many things and people he's reached out and helped, nobody will ever know about except themselves, and that's how he liked it.”
Hubbard was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2009.
Besides his wife, he is survived by sons Derrol and Brett, daughter Shana, and four grandchildren. Another daughter preceded him in death.
A memorial will be held later.